Super Bowl Inflation - 2017 Edition: This Is The Year To Go

If seeing a Super Bowl in person is on your “Bucket List”, this is the year to go. That’s the upshot of ConvergEx's annual review of prices associated with the event. 

The get-in price of ticket in Houston is currently $2,019, well less than last year’s $2,900 minimum cost.  Average ticket prices are also lower than 2016, at $4,417 versus $6,007 last year. 


For Pat’s fans, airfare is only 1.7x the usual charge to fly to Houston (one-stop), well below the usual pricing airlines charge during Super Bowl weekend.  Atlanta fans will have to fork over far more – just over 6x the normal rate – but they do at least have a direct flight.  One positive point: both teams’ fans can book local hotel rooms for less than $100/night, even if the nicer ones are closer to $1,000. And if you are thinking of advertising during the big game, you are in luck.  The price of a 30 second spot is still $5 million, just like last year. 


The economic message out of this data: either the high end consumer (about the only people that can afford to attend the game) is cutting back on his/her leisure budget, or the Super Bowl is losing a little of its destination-event appeal.  With the current point spread at just 3 points, at least it should be a good game.

With the Super Bowl just a few hours away, you have probably plunked down your cash to participate in one or more of those “Buy a square” pools at the office or your local bar. The big advantage to those games is that you don’t need to know anything about football (proof: I won a pool once) and it makes watching the game a little more fun since you have something riding on the outcome.

One website called  has worked out which numbers, based on all 50 Super Bowls, have had the best chance of winning.  Since the typical pool has 4 payoffs (1 for each quarter), here are the most common historical outcomes for each:

  • First quarter: 0,0 (remember only the last number in the scores count)
  • Second quarter: 0,7 and 3,7
  • Third quarter: 3,7
  • Fourth Quarter: 4, 7
  • In general, the best numbers to have are 0, 7 and 3 (obviously), but then 4, 6 and 1 come next in the frequency table (in that order). In dead last are 5 and 2.
  • If you want to see more, or are curious as to the historical scores for all 50 prior Super Bowls, click here

Over the years we have used the Super Bowl as a touchstone for something we’ve dubbed “Bucket List Inflation” – how much it costs to attend each year’s game assuming you have no “Ins” with team organizations or can get officially priced tickets.  We started tracking the data in earnest back in 2012, both in terms of free market ticket prices and airfare/hotel/parking.  The central idea was to measure both the cost of entry and how much price elasticity existed in services (air/hotel/etc) over the weekend of the Big Game.

The overarching message today: if going to a Super Bowl is something you’ve always wanted to do, go this year.  Here’s why we say that:

The “Get – in” price for one ticket on TicketIQ (an online service, details below) is currently $1,972 for one seat. It has been declining over the course of today, so it might be even less when you get this note at 9pm tonight.  Granted, this is not a great seat – nosebleed, back corner, etc.  But you are at the game.


By comparison, the “Get- in” price last year at this time was $2,900/seat on Stubhub.  Two years ago, we logged it at $3,300/seat.  You have to go all the way back to the game in New Jersey to see a cheaper “Get- In” price: $1,242.


Average ticket prices are also cheaper than the last 2 years, at $4,417/seat versus $6,007 and $5,684 for 2016 and 2015, respectively. From the looks of the online reservation tools we saw, you can get some very good ticket for that price.  Just keep in mind that 4 seats for you and the family will set you back $17,600.


Two websites where you can see the pricing we reviewed:

Now, many factors go into how expensive a Super Bowl ticket might be.  Are the teams from large metro areas?  Is the destination conducive to other activities during Super Bowl weekend?  Is it a landmark game for a particular player or a team?

The bottom line is that Super Bowl 51 is less costly than prior events, but still quite expensive by any objective measure.  Could it be that the much-publicized decline in football’s popularity is playing a role here?  We won’t know for a few more years of Super Bowls.  A more likely explanation: many baby boomers who wanted to check the box on this Bucket List item have done so…  Perhaps there will be a lull in pricing until millennials get “Super Bowl Fever”.

As for other things you need for the weekend – a plane ticket, hotel, rental car and parking – the data from Super Bowl LI shows typical mark-ups as compared to prior years.  A few data points:

  • There are no non-stop flights from Boston to Houston over the weekend, but a 1 stop trip costs $888. The same trip in 2 weeks time would set you back $516, for a ratio of 1.7x. The typical markup since 2012: 2.8x.
  • Atlanta fans have it better, and worse. There is a direct flight, but the mark up is large: $1,090 this weekend versus just $181 in two week’s time. 
  • While it is possible to get a hotel room in Houston this weekend for under $100/night, most three and four star hotels are charging $500-1,000/night. In two weeks, the rates are $200/night or less.  The same ratios apply to the last five years, according to our data.
  • Parking gets a similar markup to hotels, at $39/day this weekend versus $12/day in two weeks time. Again, the same markups have occurred in other venues.

Key takeaway here: there may be an ample supply of tickets, but the local infrastructure of a Super Bowl town always has pricing power.  This year is no different, but also no worse.

Lastly, we turn to everyone’s favorite topic: Super Bowl TV ads.  Not much inflation here – a 30 second spot still costs $5 million, essentially the same as last year.  In a novel twist, advertisers are actually allocating additional spending to promoting the ads themselves.  Yes, advertising now has its own advertising.  You can read the details here.

In a way, this actually makes sense.  Just go to Youtube and search for “Super Bowl ads” and sort by view count.  The top three have over 280 million views – far more people than watched the game last year.

Since this is meant to be a “Feel good” note, we’ll close out by giving you links to the top 3:

Liam Neeson playing a video game, but channeling his “Taken” character (150 million views):

Arnold Schwarzenegger, also playing a video game (103 million views)

And, yes, “Puppymonkeybaby” (28 million views):